Reflecting on a Hybrid International Conference
Earlier this month, I attended the Association of Educational Communications Technology (AECT) annual conference in Chicago, Illinois, my first in-person conference since the start of the pandemic. I have been involved with AECT since 2014, presenting at the annual conference and taking on numerous leadership roles within the organization. AECT has been a wonderful outlet for my research and a space where I can recharge and network with colleagues. In a way, AECT is one of the reasons I ended up here at FGCU after completing my graduate work at Penn State.
As expected, this year was a bit different though. This summer, during the organization’s planning meeting, it was revealed that in order to meet the needs of the membership, they would be offering their first ever hybrid conference. As a result, those who wanted and were able could attend in person, while others, who were unable to travel could still attend all of the sessions they were interested in from home. With over 400 people attending in person and over 500 people attending virtually, the conference didn’t come without some minor hiccups. However, looking back at it, the conference was an overwhelming success. Sure, the hybrid nature of the conference provided some logistical challenges, especially when it came to scheduling sessions, but those who attended in person were able to do so safely, and there were only a few instances were those attending virtually weren’t able to connect to a session. My hope is that hybrid options become a viable solution for those looking to attend a conference but are unable to do so for various reasons.
With over 400 people attending in person and over 500 people attending virtually, the conference didn’t come without some minor hiccups. However, looking back at it, the conference was an overwhelming success.
Needless to say, AECT continues to be a great organization to be a part of. Not many could have pulled off a hybrid conference, but leave it to the folks who research and teach in technology-rich learning environments to provide a glimpse of what is possible. The week was filled with sessions on culturally responsive pedagogy, inclusive instructional design, best practices for integrating educational technology in learning environments, and research exploring innovative uses of technology across learning settings.
This year, I was fortunate enough to have two research paper presentations. My first presentation reported on my research conducted with a local school here in southwest Florida, and the second reported on the current work I’m doing with the PGA management program on campus. Navigating the hybrid nature of these presentations was a bit different than what I was use to at first, but it was great to have the option to engage with attendees both virtually and in person who were intrigued by my work. It was a privilege to represent Florida Gulf Coast University and some of the innovative research and work my colleagues and I in the College of Education are doing.
As I look back on the four days I spent in Chicago, it was great to engage with colleagues I haven’t seen in over two years. Even more, it was great knowing that AECT continues to lead the educational technology field in terms of research, design, and best practices.